Ask Our Dog Experts . . . How Can I Get My Dog To Swim?

By Brian Lee, Dog Trainer & Behavioral Counselor

QUESTION:

I have the only lab dog  in the world who hates to swim.  After 5 years she just now learned to enjoy her baths, what can I do to get her to participate with the other dogs swimming in the doggie park pools or to actually go in the ocean.

BRIAN LEE’S ANSWER: 

The key to behavior modification is taking baby steps.  Your dog must get wet several times a day in order to become desensitized to water.  Simply wash her feet or pick her up and putt her on the first step of the pool and hold her there until she’s calm, then let her get out.  This will allow her to gradually become accustom to water without forcing the issue too quickly and thereby getting into a power struggle (the very thing you want to avoid).  Slowly immerse her more each day, making sure to never move to the next level until she is no longer struggling with the current one.  If your dog is willing to take treats during these exercises, the treats can help remap the brain and make it a more positive experience.


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